Friday, December 30, 2016

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

I bet you can think of one thing you’d like to change about yourself or your circumstances. We all can. We make New Year’s Resolutions, start new diets then give them up in the face of temptation, vow to quit something old or start something new, but most often, we do nothing more than complain, or laugh, about what we claim to want to change.

The truth is we rarely develop new habits until the pain of staying the same is greater than the fear of making a change. Why is that? Most of the time, we just don’t want to expend the effort to get going. We don’t change until we get sick of ourselves complaining about needing to change, so until then, we avoid it or deny it.

In fact, there are 6  main ways we excuse ourselves from making changes:

1. Ignorance. Sometimes we don’t know what to do or how to do it. We may not even know there is another way to live or even understand that our belief system is faulty.

2. Suffering. We use our pain as an excuse. When we are paying the consequence for what we’ve done, we can use that as a substitute for change. In other words, we say to others, “Feel sorry for me, I‘m in jail, in rehab, in the hospital, kicked out of my house, or in some other way reaping what I’ve sown and now I am suffering, so don‘t ask too much of me.” Holding onto suffering obscures the need for change, and erects a block to actually changing. 

3. Self-Pity. “I just can’t do it,” or “Just do it for me.“ Living in perpetual distress may be an effective way to guarantee attention, but we are rendered emotionally paralyzed in the process and are prevented from making any constructive changes. 

4. Risk. Change takes time, effort, and risk. It’s easier to stay with the painful known, than to venture into the unknown with no guarantees.

5. Toleration. Sometimes people who are considered to have a poor self-image, begin to use that identity as an excuse to continue their bad behavior without losing the approval of others. They are excused from making positive changes because they have “poor self-esteem” and so can’t be expected to be responsible.

6. Relinquished decision-making control. Allowing others to be in charge, make decisions, or handle responsibility can make us appear humble, virtuous, or self-sacrificing, which may be true on a case by case basis. However, as a lifestyle, it’s a means to free ourselves from being accountable for any decisions made, as well as negate any responsibility to make changes in our thinking, beliefs, or behavior. For example, making statements like, “I’d cook healthier but my kids will only eat fast food..."

So, how do we break the cycle?

  • Start small.
  • Trying to do something drastic rarely works long-term.
  • Pick one thing you want to change and make small alterations in your daily behavior.
  • Ask yourself, is this action going to bring me closer to my goal of ___________ or take me farther away?
  • Reward yourself for even small changes.
  • Most importantly, pray daily, asking God to empower you to make the changes you desire. Trust Him to change you from the inside out!
  • And when you are inevitably faced with temptation to react the same old way? Pray for self-control, then give yourself permission to wait for 5 or 10 minutes before you take any action. Usually the temptation has subsided by then.  
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

Adapted from Rust, Father-Daughter Connection

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